Henry Poon's Blog

European road trip 2022 – day 3 – Monaco and Èze

We started our morning having breakfast in Nice at one of the few breakfast joints that was actually open. As it turned out, our waitress was German, so I got to practice a little bit. Ever since I stopped actively learning it and stopped my regular German practise meetups, my German has become super rusty, but it was nice to see that I could still manage! The food itself was okay – bread, salad, and eggs. The good part was the different kind of jams, but I’ve made better bread on my own. After breakfast, we began our road trip starting at the Principality of Monaco, home of the Monaco Grand Prix. Again, I have to manage extremely tight parking spots. By the end of the trip, I’m going to get really really good at navigating these.

I’m not a real F1 fan and I don’t have the patience to watch the cars go around the track 50 times, but I do like the idea of cars doing that. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the Monaco race – how they navigate the tight Monaco streets, especially the famous Monaco hairpin. All the souvenir soups all over town sell postcards that outline the Grand Prix track, and since it’s all on public roads, I got to do my own lap around Monaco. They even left the red and white racing lines on the road!

Monaco has a reputation of being a place for rich people, and we felt it. Every mall had all the luxury brands, hundreds of yachts were parked on the harbour, students in private school clothes walked in the street, and plenty of people drove fancy cars.

We wandered around town and eventually made it to the Monte Carlo casino. It looks really fancy outside with Rolls Royce cars parked outside, and it looks fancy on the inside too, but only people who actually gamble can go into the gaming rooms. The AC was a nice temporary escape from the heat outside though.

I saw two parts of Monaco: the rich posh part, and the traditional part. The traditional part is a small old town known as the Rock of Monaco. It’s also the location of the prince’s palace. I think the tradition is that if the flag is up, it means the prince is home. As we walked around the old town, there’d be motorcades going through, so I assume there were some local big shots going in and out.

We walked through a garden nearby the palace and saw an assortment of locale vegetation: tall/short, succulents/lush greens, flowers/trees with the bright blue ocean as the backdrop.

The toughest part about today was not only that the weather was super hot, but also the mosquito bites from the day before had swelled up and was itching me constantly. It almost felt like every 5 minutes I’d have to apply the anti-itch cream. Once we got back in the car and I started driving, I could at least distract myself from it while concentrating on the road. Later in the afternoon, we reached the small town of Èze.

It’s a picturesque town extending from the base of the hill to the top, with a view of the ocean. It was super tough finding any parking and I didn’t find any publicly accessible car roads leading up to the top – I mean that makes sense since the place was built before cars were invented. The only parking was at the local Fragonard perfumerie, but even then we couldn’t park there too long since they were about to close and we didn’t want them closing the gate on our car. We didn’t have time to visit both the hilltop and the perfumerie, so we opted to get a factory tour since that’s what we were there for. I figured we didn’t miss out on the hilltop – the view of the hill was probably better than being in it.

The factory tour itself was interesting. They showed us the giant vats for perfume distillation, how there are professional “noses”, the top top tier of perfumers, the different levels of perfume (it goes parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne in order of most concentrated to least concentrated). An interesting thing I noticed was that the perfumerie had two Chinese salespeople, whom I assume were placed there to interact with the many Chinese tourists that come through, but since at the time we went, China was having it’s Zero-COVID policy so the only Chinese tourists had to come from elsewhere.

See more photos of Monaco and Èze

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